Sunday, September 21, 2014

Emma Watson's Speech HeforShe: "Men, Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too"

In reading the primary source documents for class, one aspect of the Women's Suffrage Movement that has really stood out to me as ironic is this notion that women really rely on men in order to get the vote. Perhaps more important to their cause than convincing each other of the importance of the women's vote is convincing male voters to vote for suffrage. No matter how well they organize themselves, they ultimately have to find tactics that engage men in their movement.

Emma Watson's speech at the UN to launch the HeforShe campaign has gone viral over the weekend. The HeforShe campaign aims to engage men as advocates for ending gender inequality. For me, the tone of this campaign is so similar to the way suffragists engaged men in the fight for the vote at the turn of the century. And, part of me is really annoyed with that. Part of me feels like we already changed the system, so women should be able to be advocates for themselves. But, at the same time suffragists recognized that they needed to work with in the system in order to change it. And, I really do think that mentality is perhaps the most useful tool towards progress today. Men are an essential aspect to ending gender inequality--they are half of the population. And, just as women have been objectified and stereotyped they've been objectified and stereotyped in different ways. And, a collective movement is required to really address gender inequality globally.

- Laurel


  1. I also thought this speech was an interesting based on our discussion in class about the women's movement also being led by white women and not always inclusive of women of color. I also took a look at the website for the heforshe campaign and if you scroll down notice they use the American women's suffrage as the start of gender equality. I wonder if there was a movement elsewhere in the world that started the struggle for gender equality that we don't know about? Just a thought, take a look at the website if you are interested.

  2. In response, some commenters at 4chan have said some heinous things about Watson. One of the most notable is the threat to publish nude photos of Watson online. This calls back to our discussions of women's physical appearance being used as a way to undermine her political influence. Some men see rude comments as a way to distract the public from the actions and words that demonstrate that women have a considerable contribution to make. For example, when Hillary Clinton decided to grow out her hair while still Secretary of State due to the time-consuming nature of hairdressing, it was a topic in the media for days, calling attention from what she was actually doing. People don't even have to truly mean the comments; as long as they're said, the desired result of moving attention away from women's actions has been successful. That's why many say that this Watson nude picture reveal is a hoax. If it is, the 4chan user has definitely shifted some focus from positive headlines about this speech.

  3. In response to Laurel's original comments, I am also repeatedly frustrated by the fact that women, both throughout the suffrage movement and up through today, often have to rely on men for change. This seems in some ways paradoxical that we argue that we are equally capable of leading and igniting change, and yet we must appeal to men in the struggle to make that fact known. We can be and are advocates for ourselves. But think about other social movements that go on- we always talk about "allies". The reason this is so important is that allies often (though not always) are part of the dominant race, gender, sexuality, etc. The suffragists needed to appeal to men, because ultimately it was men who would be voting on the passage of the 19th amendment. And now, we need men to join in the fight for gender equality because as much progress as we have made, men still hold most of the positions of power. They need to be on board with current social movements for gender equality because ideas of manhood need to change in order for ideas of womanhood to do the same.


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